MINICARS: Hot Wheels Kenmeri Skyline hints at what could’ve been

Hot Wheels Flying Customs kenmeri Skyline 01

The Hot Wheels kenmeri Nissan Skyline in the Flying Customs series has been one of the hardest of Mattel’s Japanese classics to find. If you were lucky enough to score one, look inside. There were actually two different interiors: a full stock cabin with rear bench and passenger seat, and a racing cockpit with just one racing seat. Today we’re going to answer two mysteries. Why the two interiors, and why was it so damn hard to find?  

Hot Wheels Flying Customs kenmeri Skyline street interior 01Hot Wheels Flying Customs kenmeri Skyline racing interior 01

First, where did all these kenmeris go? The short answer is, to hobby shops and likely overseas. Every year, in addition to the regular $1 cars on blue cards, Mattel releases a few premium series such as Cool Classics or the Flying Customs lineup of which the kenmeri was a part of. These cars sell for $3-5 and often come with special paint, wheels, suspension or an all-metal chassis.

They’re usually distributed in your typical big-box stores like Target or Toys R Us, who order a bunch at the beginning of the year. However, often times these higher end toys will see slower sales than the $1 cars, and impatient retailers will choose not to renew their orders for that particular SKU (bar code) before the entire series is released.

As we’ve seen with our own Hot Wheels X JNC releases, the time between production and appearance on shelves can be several months, so the cars already manufactured when a big box retailer cancels the remaining orders are stuck in diecast limbo. Instead of Target or Toys R Us, the cases are shipped to second-tier retailers like Big Lots, 99-Cent Stores, or TJ Maxx and the like. Sometimes they’re even shipped overseas to secondary markets.

That’s exactly what happened with the Flying Customs kenmeri, and that’s why you never saw it on the pegs at your local retailer.

Hot Wheels Flying Customs kenmeri Skyline racing interior 02Hot Wheels Flying Customs kenmeri Skyline street interior 02

This same scenario is why there are two interiors for the kenmeri. Back in 2012 the Vintage Racing series was another premium series halted before all the planned cars were released. The eighth and final wave of these cars were supposed to contain several of iconic Japanese race cars, but tragically, these had not moved far enough down the pipeline to be manufactured.

One day, if I’m given permission, I’ll discuss the other castings that were to be included in the set. They were really interesting but never went beyond the planning or printer stage. One car that was to be included in the set was the kenmeri, done up in its iconic 1973 Tokyo Motor Show livery and containing a single-bucket race interior.

Alas, it was never meant to be. Fortunately some of the cars in this lineup, like the Toyota 2000GT, did eventually see daylight. What a set that would have been! Instead, we commissioned Mark “Scalemaster” Jones to build a custom one. But with the way Hot Wheels nostalgics are flying off the shelves these days, there’s always hope the racing kenmeri gets reconsidered in one form or another.

Photos courtesy of John Lambert.

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10 Responses to MINICARS: Hot Wheels Kenmeri Skyline hints at what could’ve been

  1. Nigel says:

    Got one of these, I will check to see which interior it is.

  2. mister k says:

    aagh the wheels

  3. John M says:

    Thanks for the post. I have actually wondered about this car. I got one from a collector last year, but have never seen one in a store. I need to check my interior.

    The Kenmeri is my all-time favorite JNC and the display model at the 1972 Tokyo Motor Show is as good as it gets for me. It just epitomizes the cool-factor of JNCs. Hope it will be reconsidered for release.

  4. Ben says:

    Got one of these, actually got several of these and sent them to collector friends. Over here in Sydney Australia, our TRU and Big W Stores carried them for $5 each.

    The ones I managed to pick up, had the standard seats as per the 2011 new model release version.

  5. O says:

    At the time, a Hot Wheels employee mentioned that the 2000GT was going to be released in Shelby paint, and the 240Z was going to be released in #11 Safari Rally paint. Too bad they never saw the light of day.

  6. graveltrapp says:

    I scored two or three last year of ebay, I need to dig them up and see which interiors I am sitting on. I did not realize they were so difficult to get. I really wish they would have released the Z in the rally livery, that would be awesome next to the latest red celica.

  7. I have one of these, with a single seat.
    I bought it at a toy store in 2013 and luckily it was at a promotional price.
    I didn’t know it was so rare and I didn’t even know the prices it’s being sold for now.
    I think I have a little treasure in my hands!

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